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Weekend Preview: Brutal & Heartbreaking Oscar Nominee 'Bullhead' Is Must-See

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood February 16, 2012 at 1:09PM

If you live in New York, Los Angeles or Austin, get yourself to a theater for "Bullhead" (it expands February 24). The Belgian film, nominated for a Best Foreign Language film Oscar, may not take home the big prize on February 26 ("A Separation" and "Monsieur Lazhar" are custom-made to the academy's taste), but the brutal, heartbreaking parable and gangster-neo-noir can count two wins already: rookie director Michael R. Roskam and star Matthias Schoenaerts.
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"Bullhead"
"Bullhead"

If you live in New York, Los Angeles or Austin, get yourself to a theater for "Bullhead" (it expands February 24). The Belgian film, nominated for a Best Foreign Language film Oscar, may not take home the big prize on February 26 ("A Separation" and "Monsieur Lazhar" are custom-made to the academy's taste), but the brutal, heartbreaking parable and gangster-neo-noir can count two wins already: rookie director Michael R. Roskam and star Matthias Schoenaerts will be the ones working in Hollywood; it's just a matter of time. This Q & A for the film reveals that their English and charm should propel them onto the global movie scene. The trailer and a clip are below.

Also up for an Oscar - for Best Documentary - is football-human-interest story "Undefeated," which should have more than sports fans reaching for tissues. Both Greg Kinnear's wintry comedy "Thin Ice" and indie Alaskan Eskimo drama "On the Ice" are earning strong reviews. Details on the rest of this weekend's offerings are below, from Nicolas Cage action sequel "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" and Reese Witherspoon-Tom Hardy-Chris Pine romantic comedy "This Means War" (which is earning hideous reviews) to Japanese anime "The Secret World of Arrietty."

"Bullhead" Drafthouse Films, BELGIUM | Dir: Michael R. Roskam; Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian | 88% Tomatometer | AP says: "Eventually it reveals itself to be a character drama about the way the past shapes us and our inability to escape it, no matter how convincingly we believe we've transformed ourselves."

"Undefeated"
"Undefeated"

"Undefeated" The Weinstein Co., USA | Dir: Daniel Lindsay | 88% Tomatometer | THR says: "A stirring, finely crafted human-interest story about underprivileged lives touched by the rewards of shared experience." | ThePlaylist says: "The potential to charm the pants off of large audiences is here." | The Directors talk to Indiewire.

"The Secret World of Arrietty" Disney, JAPAN | Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayashi; Cast (English Voices): Saoirse Ronan, Mark Strong, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie | 93% Tomatometer | Variety says: "[It's] old-school, mostly in a good way."

"This Means War" Twentieth C. Fox, USA | Dir: McG; Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy | 28% Tomatometer | Todd McCarthy says: "This perfectly dreadful romantic action comedy manages to embarrass its three eminently attractive leading players in every scene." | ThePlaylist says: "A rom-com about love without a single character worth liking, an action flick burdened with intermittent bombast, "This Means War" wouldn’t be quite so trying if anybody involved had tried a little harder."

"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" Columbia Pictures, USA | Dir: Neveldine; Cast: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba | Tomatometer.

"Thin Ice" ATO Picturse, USA | Dir: Jill Sprecher; Cast: Greg Kinnear, John Paul Gamoke, David Harbour, Jennifer M. Edwards | 80% Tomatometer | EW says: "[It] enjoyably fuses cleverness and sheer desperation."

"On the Ice" USA | Dir: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean; Cast: Frank Qutuq Irelan, Adamina Kerr, Josiah Patkotak, Teddy Kyle Smith | Tomatometer | Village Voice says: "On the Ice is a marvel of concentrated, classical storytelling."

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Reviews, Reviews, Headliners, Critics, Trailers, Video, Genres, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.